Ver Angola


Covid-19: Lusophone countries in Africa not prepared to treat critically ill patients

The director of the Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (IHMT) considered this Thursday that the situation of Covid-19 in Portuguese-speaking African countries "is not critical", but was concerned about the lack of ventilators to treat the most severe patients.

: Ampe Rogério
Ampe Rogério  

"We are not yet in a critical situation. Cape Verde has registered a death, Angola has the situation more or less stabilized and so has Mozambique," Filomeno Fortes told the Lusa news agency.

The doctor believes that the climatic conditions in these countries, associated with epidemiological border control measures and the fact that most of them do not have large tourist flows have contributed to reducing the risk of the disease spreading.

"We are concerned that these countries are not prepared to receive patients in a critical condition," he said, considering this to be one of the main concerns of governments.

"There are not enough staff prepared, in quantity, to respond to critical cases and there is no equipment, for example ventilators. If there is an exponential increase of cases, we are not going to have a way to put these patients on ventilation," he said.

Filomeno Fortes believes the issue of professionals can be solved with the help of friendly countries, considering that both Angola and Mozambique can "quickly turn to Cuba for support in human resources".

"The issue of equipment remains to be solved, and then yes, we start with another drama," he said.

The director of the IHMT also stressed the importance of governments betting on "social mobilization" to "discipline the population in relation to behaviors, whether hygiene or cultural".

Filomeno Fortes expressed particular concern about Guinea-Bissau, given the political and institutional crisis in which the country remains plunged and the border with Senegal.

"Guinea-Bissau has a border with Senegal, where there is a lot of movement, and [also] at the moment it is difficult to find a single voice of command," he said, advocating interventions by the African Union and the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP) to support the country in the fight against the disease.

Filomeno Fortes said that the IHMT is mobilizing the network of its former PhDs and masters in Portuguese-speaking countries and working in partnership with the CPLP to create a "methodological platform" with technical documentation and up-to-date and credible information on the disease, in Portuguese".

The idea is, according to Filomeno Fortes, to help countries develop their contingency plans, "avoiding making some mistakes by disseminating information that is jumping through social networks".

In addition to actions to support the fight against the disease in Portugal, the director of the IHMT said that the organisation is also prepared to provide distance training to technicians from Portuguese-speaking countries.

"At the moment, we are already in articulation with Angola and Cape Verde and we also want to establish the link with Guinea-Bissau because, as we understand that the situation is worrying, we can, outside the political links, give technical support to colleagues from Guinea-Bissau in handling these cases," he said.

Angola and Cape Verde each have three cases of Covid-19 in their territories, with one death due to the disease in Cape Verde.

Mozambique has confirmed five cases of infection and Guinea-Bissau two.